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In Plain Sight

                                                              In Plain Sight                                                                                                                                     by Marco M. Pardi 

“The art of secrecy lies in being so open about most things that the few things that matter are not even suspected to exist.” B. H. Liddell Hart (1895 – 1970) Strategy. 1954.

“When you want to hide the needle, add more hay.” Classic Intelligence Community adage.

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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In these past few months I have noted what appears to be an increased tendency among people to keep their thoughts to themselves.  This is not surprising, given the presence of a demented man-child in the White House and a virtual take-over of government by the cabal which supports him.  As we’ve learned in the past few days, even being a spokesperson for this administration puts one’s credibility at risk of irreparable damage from the almost Tourette’s like tweets and pronouncements coming from the titular president.

Official secrecy has long been a tool of governments, accepted even in the same breath as transparency.  However, most concerns are raised not over secrecy itself, but about what is being kept secret.  And, as the opening quote implies,  some subjects are and remain secret simply because they have effectively been made a non-issue.  The recent Trump order to the Environmental Protection Agency to remove all mention of Climate Change from their website, Trump’s “looking into ways to change the libel laws so as to sue journalists/media” for publishing unflattering statements about him, Trump’s abrupt firing of the FBI Director heading an investigation into the election, and the Trump administration’s move to place access to the internet in the hands of a select few reminded me of a twenty six page article in the August 2008 edition of the journal Political Theory.  Dr. Alexander Wendt, then an award winning author and professor of political science at Ohio State University and Dr. Raymond Duvall, then professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota wrote, “Sovereignty and the UFO” (the term UFO, carrying non-rational baggage, has since been replaced by UAP -Unidentified Aerial Phenomena).  Surprisingly, not a single political scientist, or other reader, subsequently responded to the article in the journal Political Theory.    

No, I’m not writing about UFOs or UAPs.  For the record I, along with the governments of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, the U.K., France, Belgium, Sweden and Russia have accepted the mountains of physical, electronic, photographic, radiologic, botanical and testimonial evidence of their existence from multiple unimpeachable witnesses but I stand fast on the Unidentified appellation since there are several equally plausible hypotheses regarding their origin and nature.  What I am doing in referencing this article is drawing a parallel with the very successful burial (only in the United States) of any discussion of UAPs in heaps of illogical but effective criticism with the equally successful burial (again, only in the U.S.) of any serious discussion of the nature of a major American political party and its true agenda. (UFO/UAP Note: In January 2017, under direction from then-President Obama, the CIA de-classified roughly 1 million UFO/UAP documents and made them available on their website).  Did you notice?  Adding more straw.

Wendt and Duvall’s article was not intended to prove or even support either side of any UFO/UAP debate; it was intended to elucidate how an authoritarian State can render a subject invisible despite the mountains of evidence for its presence. The article did so in truly remarkable fashion. 

Essentially, the paper lists a series of tactics used to discredit UAP advocates and even serious and credentialed scientists by: Portraying the subject as fringe, New Age, and incoherent while casting a shadow over the career futures of anyone should they speak approvingly of it publically; inventing “straw man” arguments based on only one of a series of plausible hypotheses and then attacking the stated hypothesis with information not scientifically valid (“space distances make travel impossible, so it has not and cannot occur” – this has long been shown to be false); and, appealing to an anthropocentric belief that humans, as children of God, enjoy primacy in Nature, including the universe.  Discovery of another life form, so advanced as to master the technology displayed through UAPs, would not be acceptable to people who, having no competence in science, must fall back on religious dogma.  This is appealing even to those who do not see themselves as particularly religious, but also have little to no understanding of science.

But more importantly,  Wendt and Duvall’s article shows us that the worst way to keep something the public already knows about secret is to call it secret. This only spawns distrust and conspiracy theories – “they know and aren’t telling us.”  The far better way, as demonstrated by the official U.S. position on UAPs, is to declare them invalid and not worthy of attention from competent people. The parallel, for me, is the treatment of the F word – Fascism.

I’ve written elsewhere of my understanding of Fascism and will not repeat myself here.  The internet is now alight with entries such as, The Defining Criteria of Fascism and similarly informative pieces. One might think this blossoming of information is new.  It’s not. Every Republican administration since Richard Nixon has been held against this list of criteria and found, in various degree, to be a match.  But institutional checks and balances have, until now, provided a firewall against a looming conflagration that otherwise would have burned democracy to the ground.  Now, our modern media have made the publication and understanding of the criteria of Fascism more accessible.  So, it’s out there in plain sight.  Several excellent lists are available on line, for those who bother to look.  But how many are willing to sort through the haystack?  How many have decided a priori it is fringe thinking, impossible here?

Also in plain sight is the historical success of the advocates of Fascism in labeling such accusations (those arising from an understanding of Fascism) as fringe, radical, Leftist, and unworthy of consideration from “normal” and “patriotic” people.  I remember a nationwide exercise in the 1970’s in which people across the country were shown a copy of the American Bill of Rights, with the title obscured.  They were simply told it was a proposal for submission to Congress and asked their opinion of it.  By an overwhelming majority the Bill of Rights was vehemently denounced as Communist, un-American, Socialist, Radical, and/or dreamed up by Hippies.  At the same time the word Fascist elicited “Jack booted” Storm Troopers, armbands, extended arm salutes, marching armies, and – horror of horrors, seizure of privately owned firearms.  No one seemed to know of Mussolini’s own words: “Fascism is corporatism”.  Now, the granting of personhood to corporations, embodied in the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling empowering corporations to fund political campaigns with no restrictions is the very backbone of Fascism.  In plain sight. Unseen by most.

So, I am not at all surprised that, today, Fascism can come into full bloom in America through the recent complete takeover of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government by the very people who have advocated Fascism all along.  I mentioned elsewhere attending a dinner about 5 weeks after the November election at which a senior staffer for a highly placed United States Senator crowed, “Now we can do anything we want!” Sadly, he is so far correct.

I accept the likelihood that some readers will dismiss what I’ve written as radical drivel.  I also accept that some drivers see State mandated seat belt laws as infringements on their personal liberty.  Darwin can be so current.  I will not accept a continuation of the “Pendulum hypothesis” of politics, the idea that we continually swing from left to right while living mostly in the middle.  James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, was interviewed yesterday and said our basic democratic institutions are under attack, from outside and from within.  Asked if, by “within”, he was referring to Trump he said “exactly”.  Pendulums can be stopped.  Do you care where it stops?

Contrary to some public opinion, Trump did not break and enter into the White House by himself, or even merely with the help of the “undereducated White males” he appealed to.  Every move since his election, every executive order and appointment has had the backing of a hitherto largely silent cabal which can be described only as Fascist.  His repeal of every environmentally and socially beneficial action of his predecessor enables corporations to freely plunder and rape the planet, economically, socially, educationally and medically disempowering the vast majority of Americans in favor of a very select few. 

We have lived for decades with the now defunct belief that inter-stellar space flight is impossible so it doesn’t happen.  We are living now with the same flawed logic telling us that Fascism can’t happen in the United States so it isn’t happening.  So long as people continue to think that Fascism is only here once we see “boots and salutes” we will miss, at our peril, the actual parade of Fascism as it marches by in plain sight.  

 

Standing Alone

                                                                     Standing Alone

                                                                  by Marco M. Pardi

“Strength in numbers is the delight of the timid. The valiant in spirit glory in fighting alone.” Mohandas K. Gandhi. (1869 – 1948) Young India 1926.

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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I’ve never taken part in any demonstration or march for any cause, preferring to act behind the scenes if I do at all.  I have, however, observed such events and listened to participants.  Of course, on a mass, public scale these events are interesting, and it is interesting to note the degree of apparent solidarity, even if temporary, that arises at least for the duration of the events.  Perfect strangers moments before become entangled arm in arm, even rising to the defense of those in the group singled out for attack by counter-demonstrators.

I am far from the only social scientist who, in listening to participants, discovered fundamental ignorance of the issues among the demonstrators.  For some, that feeling of solidarity was more important than the accuracy of their claims.  In a very few occasions I became aware of efforts within the groups to refine and hone the central message, trimming the more extreme and indefensible positions taken by a few.

But I take a more in depth interest beyond the events themselves and wonder at the circumstances to which these participants return once the event is over.  The private university where I completed my graduate work has long been ranked an “elite school”, and the stunning tuition even for undergrads supports that view.  The Spring of 1970 was a season of protests.  Students gathered in “the Quad” chanted slogans, waved crude signs, and railed against “The Man”.  Some were focused on the Viet Nam war, some on the Draft, and some on the “Capitalist system”.  The war and draft protests were old news, but I wondered at the young students, apparently straight from some elite high schools (the undergraduate university entrance exams were quite daunting) and attending a university where the yearly undergraduate tuition was over half the cost of a decent home.  They were yelling about capitalism, but who was paying their bills?  (My graduate school costs were covered by a full academic scholarship, but my out of class duties included: working with profoundly autistic children; analyzing – in situ – the survival strategies of K-8 children in hard core inner cities; analyzing – in situ – Black Militant gang leaders and their gangs; assisting in development of cross-cultural projective techniques; and teaching undergraduate classes in Anthropology while writing a 265 page thesis.)

So I wondered, do these protesting students fly home on breaks to their gated communities and rail at “the Man” who is paying their costs?  Do they object to their all expenses paid summer vacations in Europe?  Of course, this population is only a very small part of the various groups protesting today. And I suspect students from universities of this type are largely pleased with the direction of American politics today.

So what to make of the massive crowds now turning out across America in protest against “the Man” and his policies?  Looking within the crowd at individual faces, each of them belongs to a person existing in a social matrix preceding and following their temporary sojourn in the crowd.  Do they return home to find the members of their matrix in agreement with them?

In late childhood and early adulthood I often heard the admonition to anyone going to a social gathering: Don’t talk religion or politics.  Now, we can add climate change.  But looking more deeply, we can see attending any social gathering, including family,  as entering the proverbial minefield.  Much has been written lately about the hardening polarity fracturing a superficially homogenized society.  This polarity reaches down through the roofs of our own homes.  Compounding this is an ever growing list of seemingly innocent topics which can blow up in your face: same-sex marriage; renewable energy; charter schools and school choice; health care; animal welfare; immigration and labor; abortion, and the list goes on.  And, an unreasonable amount of blame for the new climate of conversational hostility has been directed at technology such as the various “social media” devices so many people have – as if these devices suddenly loosen long held inhibitions against vile behavior. What I am not seeing or hearing is very many people saying, Just because I have a device does not mean I have to use it against someone or some topic in a vile and disparaging way.  Instead I’m hearing and seeing far too much incitement to act in a hostile fashion, either through a device or in person, from our “leaders” and the craven writers who pen their speeches and construct their political attack ads.

Another phrase we have become accustomed to is: Divide and Conquer.  But too often we take that only at the macro level; divide a country against itself and it falls.  We seem to have forgotten the phrase which characterized the American Civil War: Brother against Brother.  Although I’ve not seen any hard data, I have seen anecdotal reports of marriages in deep distress or in failure at least partially attributable to the kaleidoscopic messages of hatred and dissention coming from our leaders today.  The 2016 presidential election season was often unbearable, except for those addicted to programs like the Jerry Springer show.  Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t think there has been a Real Housewives of Washington D.C. show on………yet.

With this more interpersonal view in mind I recommend to the reader the following site: foodfaerie | A topnotch WordPress.com site

(Let me know if it doesn’t load for you)  When you open this site you will find the third installment of a fictional tale dealing with exactly the subject I’ve been discussing. I suggest you go back through to the beginning to more fully understand the dynamics.  It brings to mind the phrase, Art imitates life.

My purpose in bringing this site to your attention is the reality that we are seeing friendships of long standing and sibling/parental/child relationships fracturing into individuals for whom tolerance of the others is based on a mechanical or simple biological connection, not a felt philosophical connection.  Communication narrows to the non-controversial subjects and avoids any potentially threatening depth.  Family dinners – those still occurring, are coming to resemble the social gatherings I spoke of above; an increasing number of topics are off limits so superficialities can create the illusion of solidarity.  How many are sitting at the table thinking to themselves, If it were not for the links of biology, I would not be here among these people.

Standing alone can be painful.  In the extreme it can be deadly.  Yet, dictatorships, of all stripes, know fully well that a population that does not dare talk is a population it can fully control.  When all the frogs in the slowly warming water wait quietly for someone else to jump out and turn off the heat they are all cooked – together – for what that’s worth.

 

Voting: A Right or a Privilege?

                                                            Voting: A Right or a Privilege?

                                                                    by Marco M. Pardi

“When people put their ballots in the boxes, they are, by that act, inoculated against the feeling that the government is not theirs. They then accept, in some measure, that its errors are their errors, its aberrations their aberrations, that any revolt will be against themselves. It’s a remarkably shrewd  and rather conservative arrangement when one thinks of it.” John Kenneth Galbraith. The Age of Uncertainty, 1977

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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Before the reader groans, this is not another Trump rant. This is on a subject that has interested me since primary school days of learning about Greek “democracy”. Of course, only much later did I learn of the “primitive democracy” of Mesopotamia, India, and even the austere Sparta, long pre-dating Greek democracy.

It is important to say at the outset that I am well aware of what is clearly the Russian attempt to subvert confidence in the democratic process as demonstrated in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.  That attempt, obviously very well done, poses a grave threat to democratic societies everywhere.  And, in fairness, the U.S. has long engaged in similar tactics to discredit foreign politicians it does not want in power and to influence voters to select those it does want in power.  The traditional means included slanted articles in print media, suborning of journalists, financial support of cooperating editors, outright but covert ownership of print media and subversion of journalists. The same tactics applied to radio and television outlets.  The primary change in operation today is the realization of traditional media decline and the excellently crafted change of direction into on-line sources and engagement of radio and television talk shows.  

The basic issue today, as it has been since the American Founding Fathers, is voting. Who should be allowed to vote, and what criteria must they satisfy to obtain this right?  But on the other side of the coin is the question of how much are the voters entitled to know about the candidate being put before them.  

The history of quasi-democratic and democratic policies is obviously too long and complex for my post so I will confine myself to the last few decades of what has been called The American Experiment.

I’m not a fan of late night television, preferring to read instead.  But I have seen episodes of shows such as Jay Leno during which interviewers went onto the streets and asked current events and political, historical, and geographic knowledge questions of passersby.  At first it seemed staged; people simply could not be that ignorant. But by watching carefully, and matching the outcomes with the increasing numbers of polls taken at various times, I’ve come to accept them as valid events. Many people really are that ignorant. Further information could be found in analyses of voters and voting outcomes done over the past 30 – 40 years.  The data largely match the informal, done for entertainment value of the Leno type examples. 

I look back to the Reagan – Carter campaigns and feel I see the groundswell of our modern Style over Substance, Form over Function campaigns.  Reagan, a former actor and tv pitchman, assumed the mantle of Father Knows Best, layering over his vacuous and often simplistic agenda with the warm and reassuring comfort we associated with our (idealized) fathers and grandfathers.  No matter his rhetoric didn’t make sense, we felt better when he employed it.  G. W. Bush was appointed President largely on the semi-literate swagger and “guy you would like to have a beer with” image that outshone Al Gore’s polished and experienced image.

Throughout my government career personnel holding security clearances above a certain level and having access to certain programs had to submit annual exhaustive financial statements on themselves and their spouses (if they were still married by this point).  In some career fields they were also subject to periodic examination, up to and including polygraph.  The examinations were usually routine questions, but I remember one in which the examiner went quite beyond pilfered office supplies and into questions on the structure and functioning of government including term lengths for the Senator, House of Representatives, etc.  As I dove into my usual effort to score well on tests my Inner Voice spoke up saying, “Too many right answers can be as suspicious as too many wrong answers. Be average.”  As I now look back on those Leno interviews I feel I was, despite my best efforts, well above “average”.

Throughout the years there have been attempts at imposing some sort of screening test for voters. Of course, most were transparent attempts to exclude minorities and were eventually overturned.  But after the recent election there has been talk of developing a competency test for the Presidency.  And in the past few days a number of psychiatrists have declared Trump mentally ill.

Screening voters is simply impossible, even if a fair test could be devised.  But what about a Progressive Competency Test for candidates, from local office to the Presidency, getting progressively more complex through the higher offices?  And what about a complete and thorough publicaly disclosed financial disclosure, including complete tax statements and bank records, filed annually?  Would you not want to know if that choreographed candidate actually understands the job, or if that candidate stands to privately gain financially from the job?

Some would say these would deter the best qualified candidates. How so? Why? Some say the Primaries and the debates flesh out the candidates sufficiently enough.  In the context of a full-on 24/7 blitz of falsified “news”, radio and television talk shows, endless attack ads, and well planted rumors and innuendoes did the primary debates really shine truthfully through for you? Were they in-depth enough or did you have to bring information with you in order to understand and evaluate the points made by each candidate?  If so, where did you get this information?  I have long thought debates do not often change minds; they simply provide a venue for each side to cheer its team, not listening to the other side much less considering what the other side may have said.

I propose the development of two tests for candidates for any office which, by the rules of the Constitution, is in the line of succession should the Office of the Presidency be vacated through death, disability, or removal.  One test should be a Governmental Competency Test, by an independent body of political scientists who voluntarily surrender their right to vote on the candidates for whom the test is devised.  And, I propose the inclusion of an independent psychiatric assessment into the physical exam.  Were you satisfied when the current President’s friend and physician simply told us he was the healthiest candidate ever to run for the office? 

These tests should be administered immediately upon declaration of candidacy. The results of the physical, including psychiatric assessment, could remain private. This way an unqualified candidate could be advised, on pain of disclosure,  to withdraw at the start of the primaries.  This would draw no great general attention as candidates do it all the time.  

I propose a similar independent body of economists and accountants to oversee and adjudicate the complete and thorough financial disclosures of the candidates, again voluntarily surrendering their right to vote on the candidates they examine. These financial disclosures would also make public record of the finances going to and supporting the specific candidates and their run for office.        

Still, some will say these requirements are onerous and will impede good people running for office.  To them I say, Grow up.  A major portion of my life has been spent in contest with people who would not register a blip on their EKG as they trigger a bomb.  Any single person who reacts the wrong way puts his own life at risk. Any President who reacts the wrong way puts the planet at risk.  We must quit hoping for the best and start making the best happen.

Why Speak Out?

                                                                                         Why Speak Out?

                                                                                       by Marco M. Pardi 

“Let us say what we feel , and feel what we say; let speech harmonize with life.” Seneca the Younger (5BCE? – 65CE) “On the Diseases of the Soul,” Moral Letters to Lucilius.

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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Any first time visitor to this site can easily see I have written quite a few entries. And, a simple click on any given entry can display the comments appropriate to that piece. I have also done several YouTube presentations and Vimeo podcasts with Jamie Butler, available by searching Jamie Butler on Google.

This particular site you are reading enables me to see how many visits and readings have occurred each day, tallying those visits with the countries in which the reader resides.  Since starting this site I have had pieces read in as many as 120 countries, with comments coming in from several. Early on I did venture onto a universally known site but found that site is inhabited by “trolls” who seem to have nothing better to do than to hide behind cover names and post vicious and vile comments.  If those comments had had any merit I would have responded, respecting their right to speak out but suggesting – where needed – the discourse could be more civil. But I saw no merit and withdrew, closing that account.

For over a year we have seen numerous news reports, and even in-depth articles discussing the phenomenon of diminishing civility in the internet sphere.  One hypothesis after another has been put forward, though few, if any, tested so as to rise to the level of theory.  Each hypothesis seems to convey the bias of its proponent inasmuch as, without strenuous testing it merely reflects the a priori presumptions held by that person; if this, then that. And despite all the talk about the phenomenon it persists.  Readers who do examine the comments following my various pieces will see I respond to each of them, sometimes expanding further on what I had written because I felt welcomed to do so.

But I have had private communications with people, some of whom I’ve known for years, in which they express sincere regrets at not commenting and at having to yield to fears of troll response or even of simple internet presence attached to a controversial subject.  I can understand the reticence to engage with trolls; I think it takes a certain personality type to enjoy that. And, that there seems to be no lack of that personality type seems evident from the large audience share “Reality” shows and radio “talk shows” draw.

But the fear of openly expressing opinions on a public forum speaks to a much darker phenomenon in our society.  The events of 9/11 spawned a massive and intrusive intelligence collecting effort with broad – some say unchecked – powers to sweep up private communications.  Many said, “Why worry if you have nothing to hide?”  But as prices precipitously dropped for computers and other forms of electronic communication, making them ubiquitous, more people came to feel they did have something to hide.

Certainly, as the Bush administration attempted to institute Draconian measures such as the Patriot Act, including power to sweep up private phone conversations and even force public libraries to submit lists of who checked out which books the public looked for ways of going about life without leaving a “paper trail”.  When disclosures of NSA and other governmental agency powers to “read your email” dominated talk shows and mainstream publications the public looked for ways to cover the “digital trail”.

But how much of this capability, if real, is practicable? Even with super computers processing the billions of electronic communications daily, scanning for key words, how many people would it take to examine the collated and distilled data to identify sources, assess risk, and initiate responsive action?  For the record, I got a glimpse of this as early as 1968 when a university I worked for administered the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory, with hundreds of questions, to hundreds of incoming Freshmen and transfer students. My question of how these were to be evaluated was answered by the arrival of several boxes of computer print-outs complete with assessments and diagnoses of students and recommendations regarding the subject students. Tron had spoken.      

It is true that potential employers scan social media sites for postings by job applicants.  It is also true many people post some really stupid stuff.  And, some things appear unbidden.  Google Marco M. Pardi and you will see material I did not post myself, including articles I’ve written for on-line magazines, comments I’ve made on books and articles, scientific papers I had no idea would go on-line and even evaluations of my college teaching as posted by students. We are also connected to other people. Google Jamie Butler YouTube or Facebook and you will find videos I’ve done with Jamie.  You will also find self-styled Finder sites which claim to have personal information on me. I’ve looked at a few of them and found much of the information to be false though I’ve not yet found anything damaging.

What I find interesting is that high traffic sites often have a very low percentage of comments.  A recent YouTube release of Jamie and me discussing NDEs has, as of this morning, nearly 1,100 views; yet, it has only 20 comments, about half of which are my responses to submitted comments.    

Yet, I continue to write, sometimes on subjects some readers may find dangerously revealing. Having a decades long familiarity with the field, I doubt “the government” is spending much if any time on my ramblings. And, one virtue in being prolific is that it becomes daunting in and of itself. An old saying in the counter-intelligence community is, “When they’re looking for the needle, add more hay.”

I think my responses to comments demonstrate my sincerity in welcoming those comments.  A fairly small percentage of readers regularly provide comments, and these are almost always very valuable in themselves.  I highly value learning, and you can’t learn as long as you are the only one doing the speaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timeless

                                                                             Timeless

                                                                    by Marco M. Pardi

What time would it be if all the clocks were stopped?” Zen saying. In John Kane, ed., Moving Forward, Keeping Still: The Gateway to Eastern Wisdom. 1997

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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Many readers have by now seen my interest in probing common currents of thought. As I have written previously, I view such currents as frequently superficial and use the example of the Keystone Kops.  The Kops chase a bank robber crew into a building. They search the building from first to top floor and back and, finding it empty, leave. The crew then emerges from the building to go on to the next robbery. How and why did this happen? Because, from the outside the building did not appear to have a basement no one thought to look for a door and stairway leading to a basement. Too much of what we conclude is based on externals. My intent here is not to take issue with what people think, but rather with how they think.

One common current of thought is that “afterlife” is a non-material state, usually described as eternal but, for some, a period between incarnations into the material world again.  I have written extensively on this subject, and on the internally contradictory concept of a god. I will not reiterate that here. However, I will address the common projection of material features onto a non-material existence.

Last night I sent an email to my very dear and close friend, Jamie Butler (Google the name and you will see she is a world famous author and medium). In this email I asked her, if the “afterlife” state is non-material and therefore one to which the concept of time is inappropriate, how one can speak of change and growth? (I told her to take her “time” responding) These are measures appropriate to a material state, one in which I can say I was that way before and this way now.  Indeed, we measure time by change, or at least the perception of change.  Without change, such as the position of the hands on the clock, the place of the sun in the sky, or my state of mind, etc. how would we “mark” time?  Some readers may have read my piece on Korsakoff’s syndrome, the eternal now commonly described in chronic alcoholic “wet brain”, other drug user “fried brain”, and more recently in TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury. These people are in the eternal now because impairment prevents them from recalling even an instant ago. Likewise, they cannot project a moment into the future. Since every instant is a new moment, they apparently have no sense of suffering any loss. They are in eternity. Yet, they are living, breathing material beings. Many people, when probed, explain their fear of being dead as fear of loss of self. But who else is the self but who we have been, are now, and expect to be in the next moment?

On a related note, while studying advanced Criminology, with the emphasis on the mental state of prisoners, I was at first surprised to learn that at least some prisoners feared Life Without Parole more than the Death Penalty. They preferred oblivion, if it came to that, over the sameness of an “endless” life in a cell.   

So, imagine yourself in a bare windowless and soundproofed room with no clock. Imagine this as being yourself in the “afterlife”. You cannot count your breaths for you have no lungs. You cannot count your pulse for you have no heart. You cannot count your paces in the room for you have no legs. Yet people talk about “afterlife” experiences such as personal growth. Some, speaking through mediums, even talk about attending classes, perusing the great cosmic library, interacting with great philosophers, and on and on.  How marvelous. But each of these is an event with a beginning and an end; we can “time” it.  How do we time an immaterial world when there are no “things” that change?

Complicating this further, modern physics tells us “time” and “space” are two different ways of saying the same thing.  So, if I have a sense of a discreet non-material “me” – as opposed to a discreet non-material deceased family member or – more happily – non-human animal companion, doesn’t that imply each of us has space, each of us has defined boundaries beyond which we are not and something else is?  If so, do we not occupy a space, implying it takes time to get from one space to another?  If so, how does time apply in a “timeless” state?      

These are not just idle word games. (I say that presuming some readers will say, “This guy has too much time on his hands”). Of those who think there is an afterlife in some non-material state, how many actually probe their own thoughts to discover the contradictions, the projections, the wishes that may motivate their conclusions?

Now, speaking of projections, am I guilt free in this?  Perhaps I’ve bought into the religiously based stuff about eternity, forever, and all that. Gosh, could it be Western religions are wrong about something?  Perhaps, in attempting to reconcile what logic and science tell me with what Western religion claims I’m projecting science concepts appropriate to this universe onto a differently structured universe – or no universe at all. Perhaps there is a co-existent universe, or dimension, in which our “Laws” of science do not apply.  

Ah, well. I’m once again in 5th grade Religion class as Sister Cornelius glowers in response to my questions.  Her answer: “It will all be revealed after you die, Mister.” Sorry Sister, not good enough. And then in 6th grade Religion class Father Sean pulling me aside after class with a stern warning to not ask further questions as “other students might lose their faith.” What, you think I believe this?

It’s time for my daily walk around the neighborhood with my Philosopher-Dog, Plato.  For over a mile (time varies with how much pee-mail he has to read) I discuss these questions with him. But, he’s not giving answers either.  Hopefully, readers will chime in. After all, we don’t have much “time”.

Inner Voice

                                                                                   Inner Voice                                                                                                                                               by Marco M. Pardi

“Deep down, below the surface of the average man’s conscience, he hears a voice whispering, ‘There is something not right,’ no matter how much his rightness is supported by public opinion or by the moral code.” Carl G. Jung (1875 – 1961) Analyse der Kinderseele.1931

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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I confess. It’s true. I hear an inner voice. Furthermore, I talk back to this voice, sometimes even argue.  But I rest in the conviction that every reader does the same. We probably even have the same name for it: Conscience.

In Homo Deus, the follow-up to his excellent book, Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari examines this voice in the context of cultural change.  He asserts that, before The Scientific Revolution, Man found guidance not internally but externally. In seeking the answers to the existence of Famine, Plague, and War he turned to gods, kings, scriptures and priests – the earthly spokespersons for gods.  Thus, he asserts, Man felt himself just another part of Nature which, in its totality, was subject to the whims of forces above Nature. These included the stars and the super powerful but capricious Olympian type gods found in so many forms and places. As Man advanced he devised a formula for knowledge: Knowledge = Scriptures x Logic. The Scientific Revolution changed the formula to: Knowledge = Experiences x Sensitivity. Putting it briefly, he asserts that Man began to recognize the superiority of his personal experiences over the graven claims of those who lived long before, and he developed the sensitivity to be aware of and immersed in the fullness of these experiences.

As a broad brush approach I agree with him.  But amidst the intense and well done detail work leading to his conclusion I feel he missed the actual meaning of the Egyptian Book of Coming Forth by Day – published as the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the slightly later development of the Babylonian Shaitan – the internal Accuser/Reminder figure externalized by the Hebrews during their 500 year Babylonian Captivity and morphed in Satan (my Iranian Shiite friends remind me Shaitan is still the current Farsi usage and is considered by mystics to be the True Self, the one who wages the 1st Jihad against the earthly desires of the self we think of as ourselves), and the Tibetan Bardo Thodol, Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State. 

Let’s see how these apply.  When selling your car you tout its virtues but withhold the transmission oil leak. Shaitan, sitting invisibly on your shoulder, pokes you and says, “Tell ’em.”  Or, when traveling into the Egyptian Underworld to be judged you review your life and, remembering the times you hurt or took advantage of someone your heart grows “heavy”.  This “heavy heart” tips the scales before the Judges and you are condemned.  Or, when traveling along from one post-death Bardo, or phase, to another you are drawn to temptations you yielded to and could not overcome in life and, succumbing again, you are cast into reincarnation to face and finally overcome those temptations.

The Egyptian manuscript was put in the grave with the corpse to instruct the essential person (Ba) in the secrets of stilling the heart (Ib) so as not to weigh it down on the scales. The Tibetan manuscript was read to the corpse over a period of days to remind and advise it of the potential traps before it.

While it is clear that all concepts of right and wrong, good and evil did not originate in each individual sui generis, I think it extreme to paint all pre-science Mankind as unthinking, unfeeling automata who held these viewpoints only because they were the revealed dicta of the day.

In fact, numerous recent studies with pre-linguistic infants and toddlers are remarkably consistent in showing that some easily share toys with others while some do not and some display empathy for others in distress and some do not. The vital importance of the studies is the strong implication that these traits occur differentially before there can be any socialization, and certainly before they become aware of social norms or of mandates created by Man in the name of some invisible god or other authority.

So just who is this True Self? Is the inner voice the voice of True Self? I did not have playmates until almost the age of 6.  I do not know if I would have “played well with others”. I entered school in the 2nd grade, a few months short of my 6th birthday.  From there until high school graduation my friends were primarily the physically challenged, the recent immigrants struggling with English, and others marginalized for various reasons. Although I had none of those problems, I felt a natural bond with them.

As time went on I seemed to naturally drift into the equation appropriate to The Scientific Revolution: Knowledge = Experience x Sensitivity. This isn’t to say every experience was pleasant; far from it. Nor would I say I consciously listened to my inner voice each time.  We are constantly reminded to “trust your instincts” and to “heed your intuition”.  (Of course, the term instinct is horribly misused by people who have no understanding of the principle, but it’s socially acceptable.)  And, when a negative situation causes us to look back we often say, “I knew better” or “It was against my better judgment”.  Are we saying we heard Shaitan but rejected him?

The process we call socialization includes taking in an immense layer of shoulds and shouldn’ts, almost completely constructed by other people. “Nice people don’t say that”. “Use this fork for the salad.” “Don’t fart at the dinner table.” And on and on.  As the layer builds and hardens it is not surprising that the true self falls further from sight.

One evening in Washington, D.C. I had dinner with a fellow Anthropologist working at SAMSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  After listening intently to her for a while I said, “You’ve outlined and explained your work so well I almost feel I could do it myself. But I have no idea who you truly are.” She sat stunned for a few moments before answering, “No one really asked before.”

I’ve had students come to me in varying states of dread over graduate scholarship or employment applications that included requests such as, Tell us about yourself.  The students trotted out various versions of, “What do they mean? What are they looking for? What do I dare write? I don’t know what to say.”

Apparently, for some, this is hard to do.  I can understand the difficulties of drilling down through the thick and hardened layers of socialization and fracking them so as to free the self.  But it seems bringing the self to the surface is what worries people most. In everything from employment applications to the choreography of dating we seem to dance mostly to someone else’s tune, we play someone else’s notes. How many relationships have developed into “If only I had known”?

Ultimately, this calls the question: Who is that inner voice, and is it free?  Free Will, a foundation pillar of Western religions, is dated back to the mythical Eve, in her “choice” to accept the apple.  It is absolutely essential to the concept of sin.  And, it’s absolutely essential to the subjugation of women and the ability to pronounce guilt upon someone for an alleged crime or other infraction. Thus, it is critical to the building of the large, complex socialization layer. Yet, Newtonian physics dealt a major blow to free will, proposing instead a “clockwork universe”.  And, Darwinian Natural Selection laid the foundation for “It’s all in your genes.”

But quantum mechanics stilled Newton’s pendulum with its revelations of non-local action, bi-locality, quantum entanglement, and random events.  Randomness recently came to greater prominence with the realization that upwards of two thirds of common cancers are the result of “bad luck”, errors in the transcription process of cellular reproduction having nothing to do with “healthy or unhealthy lifestyle”.

I can easily see how gross events in life can be interpreted as Determined.  And I understand the implications of quantum randomness. In fact, the conundrum in physics of the past ninety years has been the reconciliation of the Macro – Newtonian world with the Micro – quantum world. With enough determination I can chart the determinants which brought me into one of several neuroscience laboratories, thinking all the while of those infant experiments, while they place sensors on my cranium, present me with a left switch and a right switch and tell me to flip one or the other when I have consciously decided on a choice.

So I sit quietly for a while until my inner voice tells me, The left one.  That mental event sets off a cascade in my brain I am confident will register on the sensors as the instant I made my decision. Yet, the technicians gather around and present me the sensor output which clearly shows I intended to flip the left switch several full seconds BEFORE I was aware I had made a decision.  Was my inner voice initiating the decision, or was it responding to a decision made for it? And if so, by whom or by what?  The explanation so far is a proposed cascade, unknown to me, of bio-chemical-electrical processes in my brain which then appeared in my mind as a “choice”.  But why did this cascade start? And is it confined somewhere in the interior of my cranium or am I, as Quantum Field Theory suggests, wholly plugged into and only a manifestation of the Universal Field, about which the human going about daily life is almost totally unaware?

My Louisiana contacts have a ready response for that: When the Inner Voice speaks, answer it with Who Dat?    

To Do List

                                                                                                To Do List

                                                                                       by Marco M. Pardi

“Any damned fool can write a plan. It’s the execution that gets you all screwed up.” James F. Hollingsworth. On Strategy: a Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, 4, 1982

All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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Not long into my first military assignment I decided to keep a daily to do list.  Looking back on this I suspect it was a way of asserting and maintaining my personhood in a strictly regimented environment.  So, while my on- duty time was almost entirely out of my hands, I was attempting to feel my off-duty time was more than just waiting to go back on duty. And, working exclusively at night – six nights on followed by three nights off, I potentially had time to engage in activities considered normal by most people.  But, finding “normal” was not easy at first.   

Of course, my vision of what I could possibly do was circumscribed by the reality of living in an enclave in the midst of an unpredictable and often hostile host culture. Off base, something as innocuous as allowing one’s gaze to fall on a female would result in serious attack, even death in a couple of cases I knew of.  Not that I ever listed gazing at females as something to do that day. And, finances and transportation curtailed a few plans.

On the desert at night I sometimes listened to Radio Moscow. The music was great. But I also heard of various Soviet 5 Year plans.  These seemed a good idea, and I wondered if I could make a 5 Year To Do list. Reality set in when I discovered even my 5 Day plans fell apart.  Oh, I took college credit courses in the Armed Forces program with University of Maryland and Air University.  I took courses I enjoyed though I had a vague but growing notion of becoming an Anthropologist some day.  But the bulk of my many courses, especially through Air University, were in the Intelligence field.  I also read at least one book per week. Albert Camus’ L’Etranger  and Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon come to mind. I read Camus in the original French, but an English version has since come available. I do not recommend either book unless you have a strong resolve to not slit your own throat.

As time went on I experienced a great broadening and some pruning of my life views; it was more a matter of several doors opening rather than of a few doors closing.  But sometimes we seem to perceive the door after it is already closed to us.  A college housemate asked me to help him meet a graduation requirement of a 300 level course in Anthropology; his soon coming degree would be in Inter-Disciplinary Social Sciences.  I suggested an Old World Archaeology course I would be taking, saying I could help him get through it.

Not only did he get and read the textbooks before class started, he brilliantly excelled in the class and constantly raved about how he had found his true self.  Alas, with funds sufficient to cover only the remainder of his IDSS degree and the Draft breathing down his neck he could not basically start over to pursue his new reality. He graduated as a person with a degree in one field while his personhood was in another. The 4 Year Plan he hoped to march along turned into a forced march to a place he belatedly realized he did not want to go. He expressed dismay for years.

In recent years we’ve seen the impetus for such planning moving further down through the K-12 ranks.  My older granddaughter was drawn to medicine before entering high school.  Consequently, she enrolled in a special high school dedicated to the medical profession. Now, nearing her Summa Cum Laude graduation from University pre-med, she is considering various medical school options.  Along the way she has acquired related certifications and experience including international medical trips to underserved populations in Central America. But she is also considering time between college and med school.  Today I suggested her entry into the competition for a Fulbright or Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University; she is more than qualified for consideration and returning with that degree would open any medical school door. Fortunately, I see no indication she has any doubts about her calling; she has narrowed it down to Emergency Room physician, which can be pretty brutal depending on the setting.  Grady hospital in Atlanta is known locally as the Atlanta Knife & Gun Club.

In my experience, both as a student and a college instructor, I advocate at least a compulsory year between high school and college, preferably with international exposure.  I took my daughter to twelve countries before she finished high school. In my personal experience I left college in my freshman year because I could not possibly survive in a dysfunctional household and college elsewhere would not have freed me from that situation. The next four years of military service and travel enabled me to find my identity and to find, by listening and looking around, what I did not want to become.  The great majority of my best college students had also spent at least a year discovering what they did not want. Through that process, they brought to class perspectives, experience and insights they likely would not have otherwise gained.

Now in my retirement years – which are far busier than I expected, I again find myself making To Do lists from time to time.  I was a bit resistant to this at first, the Alzheimer’s image and all, but I show no signs of that.  In fact, in this current climate of chaos, dishonesty, uncertainty and outright unveiled hatred I’ve started pondering a To Not Do list. Topping the list would be NOT watching any news presentation by Trump, or his minions, especially Sean Spicer. But then, how would I get my information about their doings?  I implied in my just previous article that political leaders in a functioning democracy are in those positions as a result of the Informed Consent of the voters. In this most recent case it is pretty clear who did the informing: Alt-Right “news” outlets, corporate shills, religious leaders who could not understand they were being used, and, apparently, the Russians.

Following on the dictates of this cabal, I should next list, Discontinue writing and signing of environmental petitions, animal welfare petitions, and letters objecting to the policies of this regime in numerous areas. After all, without a giant check appended it is most unlikely any Republican recipient will even open my correspondence.

But such a To Not Do list would be precisely what this regime wants. Since it is abundantly clear the regime will do, or try, anything it wants despite the input from the public and the scientific community, the press briefings, the town halls, the rallies, and the “talking points” are merely theater – the same kind of theater found so appealing by the less educated who voted the regime into power.  The currency of this administration is ignorance.  The regime was brought to power through ignorance and it will remain in power through ignorance.

And so, I return to how I opened this piece: the keeping of a To Do list is a way of asserting and maintaining my personhood in a strictly regimented environment. I will continue to do so, and topping the list will be: Resist.

I earlier cited L’Etranger and Darkness at Noon as books about which I cautioned the reader.  But as I was writing this the Best Seller lists are showing the immense call for books such as 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Animal Farm.  I’ve read them and they are quite good. But they also enable the reader to displace the setting to a totally dystopian Other.  I now reassess my earlier caution against those two books above.  Put them atop your To Do List, and watch how your list suddenly grows before your eyes. There are those in power who are actively seeking to close more doors to us while opening only those they narrowly approve. To Not Do: Do not let yourself accept a life in which your personhood feels the importance and integrity of living one way but you decide to accept the dictatorial deceits and pressures to live another way.